BOLIVAR, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension’s first 4-H program in Polk County began in 1926, three years before Betty Beason Ammerman was born.
Ammerman, now 84, contributed excerpts of her diary of 4-H activities and other memorabilia to the Polk County 4-H program. The items went on display recently in the Polk County Museum as part of the National 4-H History Preservation Program.
She donated 15 ribbons, including a blue ribbon from the 1946 State Roundup for a dairy foods/milk drinks demonstration. She also donated newspaper clippings and photocopies of 4-H items.
Her diary gives a glimpse of activities in the Fair Play Victory Stitchers, which was part of the Fair Play Growth 4-H Community Club. The July 29, 1942, entry notes that club members were working on “How to Cover and Make a Stool for a Dressing Table from a Nail Keg.” Another was “How to Measure and Put a Hem in a Garment.” Yet another helpful session was on “Packing a School Lunch.”
Ammerman says she enjoyed attending 4-H roundups and meeting students from other area schools. “District and state roundups gave me the opportunity to go to different towns I had not been to before,” she says. She also learned about public speaking and presiding as an officer, skills that benefitted her later in life.
Her first job was with the Bolivar Free Press. She typed and proofread articles, and took bills to advertisers around the town square. She later moved to Springfield, Missouri, and she worked on the monthly American Milking Shorthorn Society magazine before becoming a receptionist and bookkeeper for an oil company and insurance company.
She continues to be active in the Ozarks Genealogical Society and works on its quarterly publication, “Ozar’kin.” She also was co-author of books on the history of her family and county cemeteries in Polk County.
Polk County’s 4-H club is the first club in Missouri to participate in the history program, which aims to increase public awareness of 4-H by collecting and preserving audio, video and print information.
Velynda Cameron, 4-H youth development specialist in Polk County, encourages others with 4-H memorabilia to contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org, 110 E. Jefferson, Bolivar, MO 65613, 417-326-4916. Those outside of Polk County may contact their county extension office. A listing of county offices is available at extension.missouri.edu/directory/Places.aspx.